Doctor Who Hell Bent Review

Ok, this is it, the grand finale. The Doctor has escaped his imprisonment in the confession dial and is back on Gallifrey.

It turns out that Gallifrey has been hiding in the far future near the end of the universe. Rassilon is still in charge but he doesn’t look like Timothy Dalton any more.

The Doctor goes to that barn that we saw in the 50th anniversary story The Day of the Doctor and last year’s episode Listen. He gets some Gallifreyean bods to side with him and ousts Rassilon.

He then tells the Gallireayan bods that Clara knows about the hybrid. They are so keen to learn about the hybrid that they use a little time door thing to extract Clara out of her time stream just at the moment before her death. This is only a temporary situation as they intend to put Clara back again so they time stream doesn’t get messed up because her death is a fixed point in time.

But of course the whole thing is a ploy by the Doctor to save Clara. It’s why he spent 4.5 billion years in the confession dial. At one point she asks why he wanted to save her so badly. “I had a duty of care,” growls Capladi.

The Doctor and Clara escape the Time Lords in a stolen Tardis. The lovely thing is that the interior of the Tardis is an accurate replica of the William Hartnell Tardis interior. And it looks smashing. It was a real pleasure to spend a good chunk of the episode in that old Tardis console room. Apparently it was repurposed from the one in An Adventure in Space and Time.

It occurs to me that this episode is basically Doctor Who does Star Trek III The Search for Spock. In that movie the crew of the Enterprise were willing to go to any lengths to save their friend from death and so does the Doctor here.

Eventually the Doctor realises that his friendship for Clara has caused him to go to extremely unwise lengths and resolves to wipe her memories of himself. But then he decides to make it more fair and programs the little memory wiping device so it has a 50% chance of wiping his own memory instead.

And that’s what happens. He forgets Clara.

The episode is book-ended with scenes in a diner where Clara is posing as a waitress. She’s doesn’t let on she knows the Doctor and he explains to this apparent stranger that he knows he had adventures with a friend called Clara but not what she looked like or sounded like.

At the end of the episode it is revealed that the diner is the other stolen Tardis and Clara and Arya from Game of Thrones head off for their own adventures.

In a strange way nothing much actually happened in this episode. But it’s not a bad episode at all. It’s fun to finally return to Gallifrey after all this time with the added irony with the Doctor stealing yet another Tardis and running away once again.

I was convinced that Clara would be back.

Added bonus: no Missy.

Doctor Who Heaven Sent Review

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Ok, that was an interesting episode.

Spoilers follow

The previous episode ended with the Doctor being teleported away by Me (Arya from Game of Thrones). Now we discover his destination is a mysterious clockwork castle with shifting corridors. A menacing shrouded figure follows the Doctor through the castle and the only way to temporally stop the creature is for the Doctor to “confess” something. So it would appear that whoever built the structure wants information from the Doctor.

The Doctor also discovers a skull hooked up to the teleport machine and written in sand the word “bird”. Later we see the skull fall into the water around the castle and it joins countless other identical skulls.

The Doctor sees the stars in the night sky and realises he is 7000 years from the time period he was teleported from. But he’s convinced that he has not time travelled. How is this possible?

He finds a diamond wall in one room and he decides it’s the way out. He starts punching the wall while reciting part of a Brothers Grimm story about a bird that wore away a diamond mountain with its beak. The shrouded creature catches the Doctor and fatally injures him. The Doctor crawls back to the teleporter and uses his body as the energy to rematerialse his younger self as he first appeared in the castle.

And then we discover that this process has been repeating for 7000 years. Indeed we get a montage of the Doctor repeating the loop into the future for thousands, millions, even billions of years. Each time we see him he’s worn away a little more of the diamond wall until eventually he breaks through. On the other side is Gallifrey.

OK, so, wow.

I have to say I picked up on the loop nature of the story early on when the Doctor changed his wet clothes for dry copies of the exact same clothes in front of a fire. He then leaves his wet clothes to dry in the same position as the ones he found. But it still fun seeing the nature of the loop unfold.

Also the montage at the end reveals that the Doctor had become aware of the loop thanks to the “bird” clue he left himself and he will keep wearing away at that diamond wall for as long as it takes.

At one point the Doctor says “I will never ever stop”. I guess he meant it literally.

It’s worth pointing out that the episode features the Doctor totally alone in that castle. There is no one else to talk to or interact with. Well, there’s the shrouded creature but it never speaks. At some points we join the Doctor in an imagined Tardis console room and we do see Clara with her back turned writing on a blackboard. At one point the imagined Clara does speak to the Doctor. But otherwise it’s Peter Capaldi by himself being mesmerising and amazing.

But from a storytelling point of view what’s going on?

It looks like the Doctor has been trapped in his confession dial, an item that we have seen in previous episodes this series. By its design we can see it is obviously Gallifreyan in origin and now we observe it’s clearly bigger on the inside. It would appear that the dial ends up on Gallifrey when the Doctor escapes. But is it before or after the Time War?

There’s also been some guff this series about a “hybrid”. Apparently it’s supposed to be a Time Lord-Dalek hybrid. But at the end of this episode the Doctor dismisses that. Instead he says the hybrid is actually “me”. But does he mean himself?

Keep in mind the uncomfortable line in the 1996 TV move when the Eighth Doctor (played by Paul McGann) claimed he was half human (on his mother’s side).

Or perhaps the Doctor mean’s the character Me, i.e. Arya from Game of Thrones?

Either way we will find out next week in a Gallifrey-flavoured climax.

And I bet Clara is back.